My cousin had passed from the Valley of Search through the valley’s of Love and Knowledge, probably by-passed the Valley of Unity, and had proceeded, with some kind of spiritual pass ticket, on to the Valley of Wonderment. Or so it seemed to me. After reading her last email
From: "Kari Fairbairn" <email@example.com> Sent: Thursday, July 14, 2011 3:22 PM To: "Bijou Smith" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: ghost drive in Palm Springs
Bijou my fav cuz! It's gonna blow-your-mind. I just know it will. :-) I can't help myself though, so here goes: Man! I'd forgotten all about why I had found GHost Drive. Haha! Guess the library wasn't full of page-clonkers after all. But Bij... I don't want to finish this one! It's too beautiful. If I finish it I'll die. I'm not bleedin' kidding cuz! LOL! Started scannigna few pages, but it was taking forever, the hotel made me pay per page, etc. grrrr! PLenty of time to finish the scanning when I get home tho'. No worries. Just too excited, so hav to tell you a few things. Promise no spoilers, ok. Be patient (i know u will.) :-))) First of all, there's no doubt this manuscript is inspired. Don't ask me how or why, it just IS ok? A wouldn't say a genius wrote it - you told me once that your beloved Dick Feynman was called "No Ordinary Genius"? You can say something similar about whoever wrote this. But I gathered Feynman was not too humble either... this Ghost Drive author is truly humble, everything is written so that YOU feel like the genius. THere are questions. Soul-searing, soul-searching, uplifting and wonderful and bemusing questions. It's like the words in the page come to life every time I read it. I guess a deep thinker can always find good questions to ask. But it's the answers Bij. They aren't ordinary. THe answers are personal, deeply subjective, and the style it's written in Bij....is astounding, just astounding. Every page (almost, not exactly exaggerating... well maybe a little) has hidden questions that probe your own existence and concpet of self and identity and the whole phreakin' meaning of life. I bullshit you not!!! BUt I think this is very subjective. Here's the thing: I suppose someone could read this and not take away much from it. You have to (I say "you" but I mean "me", but I'm sure it'd be the same for you) be prepared to question yourself. SO it's like an ACTIVE book. I got this very soon after absorbing the introduction. (And yeah, I mean "absorb" almost literally. It feels like an absorption....of ideas, u know?) THe incredible thing is that when you read it this way, actively, then the next paragrpahs or sections will begin to answer the questions you've just asked of yourself, or of life, of the universe, of whatever is beyond. THat's the freaky thing too. There is no obvious didactic purpse. Everything is implied and you have to be a proactive reader, or it'll seem like too much encoded information to grok all at once. Sigh... not that I can get it all at once. I have to keep going back and re-reading large portions. :-) It's like the ultimate banquet of delights: a buffet banquet you can eat as much as you want, but there is alwys more left, and when you've finished a plate you feel energized and you crave more, and like magic all the weight of that first course disappears, and so you feel starved again almost immediately, and you have to go back for more, and it never adds fat, it's a paradoxical meal that strengthens and invigorates and makes your mind lean. (Again, apologies for using "you"... i just want to share this with someone Bij! haha, I don't like eating alone LOL!) That's the thing! It's making me lean and fit in mind. I feel that so much rubbish I've read or learned in the past is just so much candyfloss that can be forgotten. It's sooo beautiful because the Ghost Drive allows the reader to discover so much for themselves. Not like those awful "self-help" genre books. THis is not about help or care or recovery or inspiration. It's way more than that. It reveals the hidden stitches in the universe, your whole "fabric of reality" you always go on about, and then, at a turn, the minute stitches and fabric involute, everything inverts, turns inside-out, and the small becomes large, the large becomes small, and so you can see everything, the entire cosmos seems to come into view and then recede away into nothingness. It's the most exhilarating thing I could possibly read or experience internally without collapsing from mental exhaustion. Do u know what I'm getting at? Like the whole universe is revealed to your eyes, but you cannot comprehend it all, you'd expire in smallness and ignorance if it was held before your gaze for too long, the astonishment would shock you into perpetual bewilderment and you'd never recover your senses, and you'd explode like a billion supernovae if an infinitesimal fraction of it all tried to fit itself into your brain, and so, mercifully, it recedes, like a beneficent beautiful Siren who knows she is drawing you into the rocks of your own ignorance and stupidity, and so, from the kindness in her heart, she retreats and leaves you with only the echo of her song to remind you of what you could not bear to fully hear, and you are left with a peaceful void, a place that allows my mind rest and which seems alive with raw potential, unseen untouched potential, like I'd imagine the pre-eternal Big Bang, before time, before space, before the flickering of the first quantum fields. Honestly Bij, I feel a bit fraudulent writing to you like this, because I cannot do it justice. It's too surreal as well. I'm getting a bit (in a good way) anxious about it. I'm serious now about never wanting to finish this ... this epic, humble, fantastical book. There's too much in it and I worry I am not capable of using it wisely. It's alreayd changed my life, but I haven't taken any meaningful action yet. Still reading. Still thinking. I wnat you to share this with me, and promise me you will stop me from going all looney and evangelical with it all, since tht's not the spirit it was written in I think. It is deeply subjective, a personal quality to it, so intimate and lonely at times, but so captivating and enlarging and all-encompassing at other times. ANd the same paragraphs can leave me with a completely different feel each time I return to them. Sometimes I'm right down in the quantum foam level seeing things in their barest essence and then at other times I'm taking in many worlds at once, totally expanded in consciousness for a moment, and then blissed out in dreams. It's very scientifically flavoured too... you'll love that. But it was written to a lover I am sure, so it is heart-wrenching and tearfully beautiful in expanse and questioning. The curiosity of all-souls came to manifest life and wrote this manuscript before a lost lover tossed their ego into the flames and burned up their attachment to material things and stopped them from writing forever for fear the pages would cause the reader to want to give up this life for an escape into the greater consciousness that can only be attained by physical death. I know that sounds melodramatic, but it resonates with something similar I have read before. DO you remember the one? The letters we came across which read like a divine revelation of some sort, how'd it go? "We have revealed only a dewdrop out of this fathomless ocean as a mercy unto the people." THere's something like this, like if I could comprehend every layer of meaning I would go mad from the sheer over-load, I would not be free of ego enough to cope with it all. THhe need to be humble and detached would send me insane. But you see, I think one can hope to slowly reach such a point of all-comprehension. And then realsie there is no all-comprehension, and what we just thought was everything is only a fragment of a dream of some eternal infinite mind. I really would like to write so much more but I think you'll appreciate it more if i just hurry back to NZ and let you see for yourself. We can do so much with this. Not a question of letting it take over my life. THere is too much action I think I need to get involved with. Not be so introverted anymore, or at least not in the bad way. You know even if I never find out who wrote it, I'm going to track down the librarian who likely shelved it and thank them for not withdrawing it or something worse! (Can guess what u r thinking -- Kuz has gone off the deep end and bought into a self-help guru thing... but u r soooo wrong. It's not so didactic and shallow as that, it's so deep, so seep, u wouldn't believe no matter how much I describe in my own words. So that's why i've gotta just fly back home quick.) actually, I trust you weren't thinking that at all... you trust me right? Conference is over tomorrow. Flying back on ANZ Saturday, long trip, but, hehe, I have the best entertainment possible! Take care cuz, dont do anything dopey till I get home, CuzKari.
Is this yet mythic in proportions? You cannot tell right? You haven’t seen the manuscript.
This particular myth is fated to be private. I don’t know if this automatically disqualifies it as a myth. Myths are supposed to be communal right? But I think this one will be semi-communal, a myth revered only between myself and my readers. Some myths never make it through the mists of time. But the wider arc of the idea of an ultimate anti page turning book can be kept alive in each one of you. Because, after-all, what inspires you to keep flipping the pages of a great book is central to your personality, and when you find a book so wonderful that you never finish reading it because each page is so rich it lasts for a small eternity, and the thought of finishing the book frightens your nerves, because you do not know if you will ever find such a love again, and you do not wish to ever relinquish this lover, then the myth of the ultimate anti page turner can live through you.
* * *
At 3PM NZT on Saturday July 16 2011, I picked up the phone and heard the news from my uncle Daniel, Kari’s dad. It had happened on a country road a few minutes out from Palm Springs. Kari had been driving back from an end-of-conference conference trip to a publishing magnate’s private residence. I’m sure she would have thought it quite amusing, to be mingling with obscenely wealth while her mind was utterly focused on more spiritual ideas and swimming in seas of the infinite. She could do that — spend an entire party just day-dreaming and making polite conversation, while all the time being in a completely different realm, and yet never making anyone feel like she was being aloof or impolite.
The shock was nothing like what I would have expected upon hearing such news. It was deep and biting, sharp like diamond blades slicing every tender nerve, it cut me into emotional ribbons, and I wasn’t sure how I’d sew myself back together. I could not walk straight after the brief tearful phone call. I went to my room and cried into my bed sheets.
After my self-pity had subsided I knew what I had to do. Sparing no expense (and costing a small fortune, at least for me) I booked tickets to California and made my way to Palm Springs, and did what Kari might have wanted me to do. Find her book, and return it to the library so anyone could loan it and read it. But not before I’d finished scanning every last page.
There was no trace of a manuscript at the crash site, the power pylon the drunk had smashed my cousin into as she swerved to avoid the head-on high speed impact was still standing. Had the wind swept away the Ghost Drive Manual? The coroner’s office had similarly bleak nothing. No one at the hotel knew. The acquaintances she had befriended at the conference were still recovering from the tragedy, no one who had known Kari, even if only momentarily over a conference tea and coffee break, would be immune from the sadness, but they knew nothing of a thick innocuous technical looking manuscript called The Ghost Drive Manual. I looked everywhere I could. All I have are my cousins emails.
My cousin had found her way to peace. I believe that. She did not have time in this life to turn her inspirations into lasting actions. But I know that a truly great idea cannot be bought and sold, cannot be suppressed, and will eventually always find light. It is not for everyone at the same time. How can it be?
And what her emails had told me was that true peace, the kind that never fades, the wonderment that never ceases to amaze, and the delight that comes from asking the right questions and finding within oneself the greatest answers. You have to be prepared and ready though, it’s a condition on finding happiness. What you find in the valley of contentment that precedes ultimate wonder is for you and not for others, and to visit that place you cannot take with you any possessions, and you leave the ones you love behind, at least in this world of time.
Do I wish Kari had survived and showed me her final literary lover? Am I trying to over-magnify the importance of her discovery? Am I injecting more meaning into her loss than is warranted? Yes, all of this perhaps. I need to. I need to magnify the truth because my vision is so dim.
Maybe the last thing I have learned from her, since that weekend in July, is that the ghosts are not the departed spirits of our ancestors. We are the ghosts compared to the rest of infinite existence. There are just too many ways that beauty can be known to be able to hold within your mind for long the conceit that we are substance and truth and beauty are insubstantial abstractions. It all exists somewhere, and always has, and always will, and we cannot grasp it because our hands, our brains, our minds, are just ghostly quantities compared to the Absolute Infinite.